The Spring 2019 issue of NECSUS includes a special section on the theme #Emotions, guest edited by Jens Eder (Potsdam), Julian Hanich (Groningen), and Jane Stadler (Melbourne). The section brings together contributions by Steffen Hven, Grant Bollmer, Carl Plantinga, E. Deidre Pribram, Wyatt Moss-Wellington, David Evan Richard, and David W R Brown. Please refer to the guest editors’ introduction for an overview of these articles. The Features section is composed of three new research articles, one translation of material previously published in French, as well as an interview.
In her article ‘Haunting Surveillance’, Paula Albuquerque presents her own artistic research on contemporary drone and surveillance technologies, which situates these technologies in a long history of spirit photography. Besides addressing the delocalised, spectral (and therefore deniable) existence of drones, Albuquerque likens CCTV and drone footage to spirit photography because these images similarly draw on the limits, glitches, and malfunctions of technology to make us see things that are not there. While this would be ghosts in the case of 19th century spirit photography, Albuquerque argues CCTV and drone technologies produce the haunting and haunted presences of sexually and racially marginalised, expendable bodies. The spectral qualities of these technologies allow them to violently reorder our perception of the world even as they claim to objectively capture it.
In her article ‘Television as New Media’, Anne-Katrin Weber studies J. K. Raymond-Millet’s film Television: Oeil de demain (Television: Eye of Tomorrow, 1947). Readers may be familiar with this film, which predicts our present day use of videophones, because excerpts from it continue to be widely circulated and discussed on social media (e.g. here and here). Weber suggests that this futurist discourse of Télévision: Oeil de demain serves a double purpose: it promotes the transformative potential of television in an attempt to increase widespread acceptance of the ‘new medium’; also, Millet’s futurist claim that television breaks with the past makes it possible to conveniently sidestep the fact that French television already had a considerable history by 1947, one that includes the years of collaboration with National-Socialists under German occupation as well as lasting continuities between wartime and postwar institutional television.
In ‘Between scenes: Glasgow’s alternative film spaces in the 1990s’ by Alexandra-Maria Colta and María A. Vélez-Serna, the authors propose a case study of the Glasgow-based film festival New Visions in order to show that alternative and grassroots festivals, by showcasing film material that might otherwise be neglected by exhibitors and audiences, serve as important temporary hubs at which various artistic scenes intersect. Moreover, this article is significant for tracing the various tensions between artist-led grassroots initiatives and their funding or host institutions. This allows the authors to address how festivals have contributed to the precarious position of creative labor.
The Features section also includes the translation of a previously published article by Barbara Le Maitre titled ‘The Film Is the Museum: Ken Jacobs, Gus van Sant, Mark Lewis and Pierre Perrault’. The title is programmatic: Le Maitre argues that key functions that have conventionally been associated with practices of curation and the institution of the museum are now fulfilled by other media such as film. This, Le Maitre contends, also requires a reconceptualisation of curation itself. Taking the reader on a guided tour of film works by Jacobs, van Sant, Lewis, and Perrault, Le Maitre shows that film’s ‘curatorial powers’ include its ability to serve as an exhibition site, to preserve and present heritage, and to perform acts of restoration.
The Features section opens with an interview with Pierre Sorlin conducted by editorial board member Francesco Pitassio. In discussing Sorlin’s intellectual trajectory from the 1960s to the present, the conversation also sheds light on recent European intellectual history more generally. For instance, readers will learn how the emphasis on authorship during the 1970s stalled the uptake and development of production studies; the discussion also addresses the decline of the notion of ‘national cinemas’. It is particularly intriguing how Sorlin, firmly grounded in the present, reassesses both the importance of his research in hindsight and evaluates ongoing developments in the media industries with an eye to the future.
The Audiovisual Essay section in this issue is edited by Catherine Grant and Jaap Kooijman, who have chosen to focus on a medium that has been somewhat neglected by videographic analysts: television. In their introduction ‘New Ways of Seeing (and Hearing): The Audiovisual Essay and Television’, the editors provide a useful overview of the few available audiovisual essays dealing with television and explicitly offer their selection as only a beginning of a hopefully more sustained videographic engagement with television. The selection includes audiovisual essays on The Wire by Jason Mittell, a triptych on Bron/Broen and its international remakes by Catherine Grant and Janet McCabe, an analysis of the figure of the female narcotrafficker in US American and Mexican television series by Juan Llamas-Rodriguez, as well as Angelo Restivo’s piece ‘Breaking Bad and Surrealism’.
The Reviews section includes Asli Ozgen-Tuncer’s double review of two recent books in feminist film historiography: Jane M. Gaines’ Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries?, a book that raises important questions about the limits of the historiographical method, and Maggie Hennefeld’s Spectres of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes, which explores the feminist potential of comedic performances by women in the silent film era. Readers will also find Donatella Valente’s review of two edited collections: Screening European Heritage: Creating and Consuming History on Film, edited by Paul Cooke and Rob Stone, a collection that revises the conceptualisation and reach of the heritage debates in a diverse European context; and Docudrama on European Television: A Selective Survey, edited by Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann and Derek Paget, a volume that traces the history of the genre from its early days on television through the more recent incorporation of reflexive, speculative, and performative strategies into the genre all the way to its current redeployment in video installations and reenactment practices. Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou offers a review of the exhibition Unearthing Landscape held at Siegen’s Museum für Gegenwartskunst in 2018. This exhibition explored how contemporary art critically engages with landscape as both a concept and a genre at a time when landscapes can no longer be associated with pristine nature that is opposed to culture, or the nonhuman as opposed to the human. Roma Madan Soni explores the work of a Kuwaiti art collector who organised the exhibition Nothing to Write Home about in 2018 in a mall in Kuwait. The exhibits were organised in an open rectangular retail space with a glass front, challenging the classical gallery dispositive and inviting the audience to see things anew. Likewise, we hope that this issue will open up important conversations in the field of media studies and help build new avenues for thinking sound, images, objects, and their various intersections.